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Friday, October 9, 2009

Evolution-devolution of cities

Kodachrome 64 is dead. It changed my photography career. - By Camilo Jose Vergara - Slate Magazine

Click on the above sentence and then click launch below the picture to observe the changes made to one, small nondescript building in Chicago over the passing of years. The building may be uninteresting but the changes certainly are not. The building's surface changes, a window appears (more likely reappears), the entry door changes and razor wire comes and razor wire goes.

If you look at the far left side of the earliest photos you will notice a small home. It appears to have burned and then to have been demolished. The home presents another story, a sidebar to the main story, you might say. It is a little story ending badly for the structure and, in the short term, for the neighbourhood.

Camilo Jose Vergara obviously loves cities. He has spent a great deal of his life documenting urban change in some of America's greatest cities. To be more accurate, he has carefully documented urban decay in America. I googled Vergara and found another interesting strip of photos. <= Note: you must click on the line "ENTER HARLEM, NY DATABASE."

Taken over a 4 year period, Vergara documents the transformation of a once beautiful building with stained glass, twin double door entries, and ornate woodwork into a building patiently awaiting the wrecking ball.

The way we treat our cities — towns and villages, too — is truly sad. There are some important lessons in these photos. These images may come from the States but Canadians should not feel too smug. Often, we have simply not documented the slow motion disaster remaking our urban world.

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